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Dandelion

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Dandelion is an herbal remedy used as an appetite stimulant, digestive aid and natural diuretic. Learn about the usage, dosage, side-effects of Dandelion.Dandelion is an herbal remedy used as an appetite stimulant, digestive aid and natural diuretic. Learn about the usage, dosage, side-effects of Dandelion.

Botanical Name: Taraxacum officinale
Common Names: Dandelion

Overview

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While many people think of the common dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) as a pesky weed, herbalists consider it a valuable herb with many culinary and medicinal uses. Dandelion is a rich source of vitamins A, B complex, C, and D, as well as minerals such as iron, potassium, and zinc. Its leaves are often used to add flavor to salads, sandwiches, and teas. The roots can be found in some coffee substitutes and the flowers are used to make certain wines.

In traditional medicine, dandelion roots and leaves have been used to treat liver problems. Native Americans also used dandelion decoctions to treat kidney disease, swelling, skin problems, heartburn, and stomach upset. Chinese medicinal practitioners traditionally used dandelion to treat digestive disorders, appendicitis, and breast problems (such as inflammation or lack of milk flow). In Europe, herbalists incorporated it into remedies for fever, boils, eye problems, diabetes, and diarrhea.

Natural Appetite Stimulant

Today, dandelion roots are primarily used as an appetite stimulant and digestive aid while dandelion leaves are used as a diuretic to stimulate the excretion of urine.

Plant Description

Hundreds of species of dandelion grow in the temperate regions of Europe, Asia, and North America. Dandelion is a hardy, variable perennial that can grow to a height of nearly 12 inches. Dandelions have deeply notched, toothy, spatula-like leaves that are shiny and hairless. Dandelion stems are capped by a head of bright yellow flowers. The grooved leaves funnel the flow of rainfall into the root.

Dandelion flowers are sensitive to light, so they open with the sun in the morning and close in the evening or during gloomy weather. The dark brown roots are fleshy and brittle and are filled with a white milky substance that is bitter and slightly odorous.

Parts Used

Dandelion leaves produce a diuretic effect while the roots act as an appetite stimulant and digestive aid.

Medicinal Uses and Indications

Dandelion is a natural diuretic that increases urine production by promoting the excretion of salts and water from the kidney. Dandelion may be used for a wide range of conditions requiring mild diuretic treatment such as poor digestion, liver disorders, and high blood pressure. One advantage of dandelion over other diuretics is that dandelion is a source of potassium, a nutrient often lost through the use of other natural and synthetic diuretics.

Fresh or dried dandelion herbs are also used as a mild appetite stimulant and to improve upset stomach (such as feelings of fullness, flatulence, and constipation). The root of the dandelion plant is believed to have mild laxative effects and is often used to improve digestion.

Some preliminary animal studies suggest that dandelion may help normalize blood sugar levels and improve lipid profiles (namely, lower total cholesterol and triglycerides while increasing HDL ["good"] cholesterol) in diabetic mice. However, not all animal studies have had the same positive effect on blood sugar. In addition, research needs to be conducted on people to know if this traditional use for diabetes (see Overview) has modern day merit.